Sunday, February 03, 2008

 

Progress report


I'm running out of time each morning before all my regular obligations intrude. I've tried to reset my practice routine so that I had more time to work on the newest pieces, but I still find myself getting lost in scales for up to an hour before I start going through a selection of my older pieces. Some days I spend half an hour or so just working on one old piece, trying to perfect one or two old trouble spots. Other days I play through four or five of them at an easy pace. Then I turn to the latest four or five pieces, working up to my newest one.

On this latest one, Dvorak's Humoresque, I'm working on rehearsing the shifts - first pizzicato, then with the bow. Here's where the time really disappears, and those other "intrusions" finally show up. The past few days, I've found myself "thinking/hearing" those fingerings, while driving or just before falling asleep. I haven't quite reached the point where I can actually play them smoothly without hesitating or stumbling.

That means I haven't been getting to any of the Orchestra pieces very often, nor to my trio pieces. Usually, by the weekend, I've begun to feel guilty and consciously set aside some time for them, so that by Monday evening's rehearsal I'm not too rusty when we start to play. One thing getting in the way is that we still haven't settled on our concert repertoire. The conductor gave us parts for a whole lot of pieces, but acknowledged that we will probably only play half of them, or so. It's hard to justify spending a lot of time learning the cello parts for a lot of pieces we won't be playing. Our spring concert is less than 8 weeks away...

So why am I so hung on those scales? It seems as if I need to work through each scale several times in order to loosen up my fingers and fine-tune my intonation. If I try to skip this step altogether, I then have problems with speed and accuracy. Somehow I've just got to cut back on that opening warmup. I really don't want to cut back on those reviews of the older pieces.


As we head into the third week of below zero temperatures, it's hard to take any comfort in the fact that we've gained two hours of daylight already. At least we're seeing starry skies at night and bright sunny days (when there isn't an ice-fog blanketing everything). But it's too dang cold to go out much.


We've been car-shopping for the last few weeks. Although we have several vehicles sitting in the driveway, only one of them starts when it's this cold, and it's now eight years old. Living this far out of town, we decided we need something a little more reliable, and it has to be AWD. We're looking at all the "crossovers" - such as Ford's Escape and Edge, Chevy's Equinox, Buick's Enclave, Mazda's CX-7 and CX-9, Nissan's Murano, Honda's CR-V, and Subaru's Outback, Forester and Tribeca. Currently, I'm partial to the CX-7, but I'm doing my best to stay open-minded about them all. We tried out a few at our local dealers this weekend, and Tuesday we'll go back to Anchorage to test drive several more.

Comments:
Hmm... I have sympathy with you over your practising habits, though I only spend 1 1/2hours a day usually. That is why I have booked a 1/2 day course in a fortnight's time that is devoted to practising structures. I am hoping it will make my daily sessions more time efficient.
 
Scales and scale-based exercises are taking up a lot of my practice time too. But since the disciplined practice of scales addresses shifting and intonation issues I think it's time well spent. It's just too bad there aren't a few more hours in the day.
 
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